Political News

The Latest: Panel says it could subpoena wiretap evidence

Posted March 13

— The Latest on President Donald Trump (all times EDT):

7:10 p.m.

The House intelligence committee says it could resort to subpoenaing the Justice Department if it fails to answer its request for any evidence that President Donald Trump was wiretapped during the election.

The committee set Monday as the deadline for getting the information, but the Justice Department says it needs more time.

The committee now says it wants the information in hand before March 20 when it holds its first public hearing on its investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

A spokesman for committee chairman Devin Nunes of California, Jack Langer, says the committee might subpoena the information if the Justice Department fails to answer its questions.

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6:30 p.m.

The Justice Department is requesting more time to respond to a congressional inquiry into President Donald Trump's unproven assertion that he was wiretapped by his predecessor.

The department had been expected to provide a response by Monday to the House Intelligence Committee, which has made Trump's wiretapping claims part of a bigger investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

But spokeswoman Sarah Isgur Flores says in a statement Monday that the department has asked for more time to "review the request in compliance with the governing legal authorities and to determine what if any responsive documents may exist."

Trump tweeted earlier this month that President Barack Obama had ordered him to be wiretapped. He presented no evidence, and the former intelligence director said last week that the claim was false.

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4:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump has signed an order aimed at streamlining the executive branch.

Trump says the new executive order requires the examination of every federal department and agency "to see where money is being wasted, how services can be improved and whether programs are truly serving American citizens."

He says the Office of Management and Budget will oversee the evaluation, working with experts inside and outside the government to develop a reorganizing and consolidation plan.

Trump says that, "today there's duplication and redundancy everywhere" with billions of dollars wasted.

The president signed the order in the Oval Office flanked by Cabinet members.

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3:30 p.m.

President Donald Trump is describing the fight over the proposed Republican health care law as "a big fat beautiful negotiation."

Trump is holding his first Cabinet meeting of his administration — a meeting he says he hopes will be "historic."

He tells his Cabinet members and reporters that he's working to repeal former President Barack Obama's health care law despite it "getting a false rep that maybe it's OK" when, as he sees it, "it's failed" and "imploding."

Trump also says he's being updated about the powerful winter storm that's expected to hit the Northeast Monday evening.

He says "everybody in government is fully prepared and ready" for the storm. And he's urging Americans to listen to local officials and take their advice about what to do.

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3 p.m.

President Donald Trump has scheduled another campaign rally, this time in Louisville, Kentucky.

Trump's campaign website says the president will speak the night of March 20 at the Kentucky Exposition Center.

Vice President Mike Pence visited Louisville on Saturday as part of the effort to sell a White House-backed health overhaul.

Trump is scheduled to hold a rally in Nashville, Tennessee, this Wednesday — his second since taking office.

Press secretary Sean Spicer says the president is also planning to lay a wreath at President Andrew Jackson's tomb at his home, The Hermitage, during the visit to Nashville. Jackson's 250th birthday is being commemorated this year.

Earlier on Wednesday, Trump is scheduled to visit Detroit to discuss job creation and the automotive industry with auto executives and workers.

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1:58 p.m.

The White House press secretary says President Donald Trump will donate his presidential salary at the end of the year. And he says the president wants the media's help deciding where the money will go.

Trump had said during the campaign that he planned to donate his $400,000 annual salary to charity.

Press Secretary Sean Spicer tells journalists the president will give the money at the end of the year and would "love your help" to determine where it goes.

He says, "The way that we can avoid scrutiny is to let the press corps" decide.

Trump came under scrutiny following revelations that he appeared to have given relatively little to charity over the course of his career.

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1:50 p.m.

President Donald Trump's meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel (AHN'-geh-lah MEHR'-kuhl) has been postponed until Friday because of a coming winter storm.

The two were supposed to meet at the White House on Tuesday. But the storm is bearing down on the Northeast and Washington could get a substantial snowfall.

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1:45 p.m.

The White House says it expects the Justice Department to comply with a request to provide lawmakers with evidence on President Donald Trump's accusation that his predecessor wiretapped his New York skyscraper.

The House intelligence committee set a Monday deadline for the Justice Department to provide materials. White House spokesman Sean Spicer says he expects the department to meet the request.

Trump tweeted his unproven accusation about President Barack Obama earlier this month. The president and his advisers have provided no evidence to support that claim and instead have asked congressional committees to investigate the matter.

The House and Senate intelligence committees are investigating Russia's interference in the 2016 campaign and contacts between Trump associates and Russians.

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1:40 p.m.

White House press secretary Sean Spicer is defending President Donald Trump's mass dismissal of top federal prosecutors as standard practice.

The Justice Department on Friday asked for all remaining 46 U.S. attorneys to submit their resignations.

Manhattan federal prosecutor Preet Bharara had said after the election that Trump had asked him to stay on.

But he, too, was dismissed on Friday. Bharara was fired after refusing to turn in his resignation.

Trump had tried to call Bharara last week but the two men did not speak. Spicer said Monday "the president was calling to thank him for his service."

It is routine for a new administration to ask for those resignations, though it usually happens at the start of the president's term.

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12:45 p.m.

Democratic Sen. Bob Casey is asking a government ethics office to assess whether President Donald Trump's business dealings make his administration vulnerable to conflicts of interest.

In a letter to the Office of Government Ethics, the Pennsylvania lawmaker says Trump's refusal to divest from his companies has exposed the administration to conflicts of interest on an "unprecedented scale."

Casey asks whether any of Trump's foreign deals could violate the Emoluments Clause of the Constitution. The clause prohibits U.S. officeholders from accepting gifts from foreign countries.

The director of the ethics office, Walter Shaub, strongly criticized Trump for not divesting earlier this year. Shaub said Trump was breaking decades of tradition by presidents who set up blind trusts for their assets.

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12:05 p.m.

President Donald Trump is comparing Barack Obama's health care law to the former president's popularity.

Trump says of Obama, "when he left, people liked him. When he was here, people didn't like him so much." He says that's "human nature."

Trump was speaking at a White House listening session with people affected by the health law.

He says the media is making the current law look wonderful.

While Trump claims Obama is less popular now, Gallup shows Obama's ratings actually rose at the end of his presidency — from below 50 percent in 2015 to near 60 percent at the close of his term. Trump's approval ratings have fluctuated between 40 percent to 45 percent at the start of his administration.

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11:46 a.m.

President Donald Trump is predicting that rates for health insurance will go "down, down, down" if Congress passes the House GOP health care bill.

Trump says the number of plans available to consumers will go up with changes to the law.

The president is meeting with about a dozen people affected by the Obama health care law at the White House. House Republicans are trying to dismantle Obama's law, but their plan to replace it has opposition within the GOP.

Trump says even if Republicans don't do anything, "It's going to blow itself off the map."

The meeting comes ahead of a Congressional Budget Office analysis that is expected to find that fewer Americans would be covered under the Republican plan.

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